Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano declares in the opening seconds of his campaign commercial for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo: "As long as I can remember, state government never worked — and certainly never helped Long Island."
Mangano, a Republican, goes on to tell us that this changed as Cuomo, a Democrat, began "shaking up Albany."
Pause the video right there.
Exaggeration is common in political ads. In re-election bids, so is the claim that all was dark and cold before the sun rose with the current administration.
In this 30-second spot, several facts seem to contradict Mangano's sweeping "never worked, never helped" painting of New York's still-miles-from-perfect government.
Fourteen years ago, the state, under GOP Gov. George Pataki, pulled Nassau from the brink of bankruptcy by creating a borrowing authority. In 1992, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and legislators worked up bailout packages for Nassau and Suffolk.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority still exists, and under Mangano — with much chafing and fighting — it asserted control of county finances. Its panel of state elected officials' appointees undoubtedly thought they were helping. Criticism of Mangano from NIFA has noticeably subsided since Cuomo shook up its board.
Hearing that the state government "never worked" and "never helped" also might mislead the viewer into erroneously believing that the Island's state legislators, including a Senate GOP-majority delegation, failed over many decades to send their districts big capital projects.
Or if they listen and absorb the message, viewers might get the wrong impression that the state before 2011 hadn't already established and maintained Long Island's parks, major roadways, health care, school aid and state university branches. No Jones Beach. No Stony Brook. No state parkways. No help, no work.
One Albany Republican who declined to be identified expressed no problem with Mangano's never-worked-never-helped claim. "They're probably talking about 2009 and 2010," when the Democrats controlled both houses and the executive, he said.
The strategy of the Cuomo ad is clear enough. There's a nice symbolism for the governor in using Mangano as a surrogate downstate — as he does with Republican Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney in commercials upstate. The first-term governor is, after all, running against another GOP county executive, Rob Astorino of Westchester.
Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud said: "Rob's never been the one looking for endorsement from other politicians, and frankly, a lot of reforms he's proposed are bold, and ruffling the feathers of the status quo."
As an advertising piece, though, the Mangano ad feels effective. Viewed casually, his manner and presentation feel down-to-earth, rational and plain-spoken as he says Cuomo "created jobs," helped during and after Sandy, and "solved" (meaning averted) a Long Island Rail Road strike.
From the same template, county executive Mahoney adheres to a similar "morning in New York" story.
"Upstate New York was in decline for decades," she says in her ad. "Four years ago, Gov. Cuomo began to change all that. He got Democrats and Republicans to work together."
That's their message — and firmly as ever, Cuomo & Co. are sticking to it like heavy-duty glue.
For reference, the ad is below.